The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

DPHHS urges Montanans to get smart about antibiotics


November 21, 2018

State and local public health officials are participating in U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week November 12-18, 2018, which is an annual one-week observance to raise awareness of the importance of appropriate antibiotic use to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPPHS) and its partners are encouraging all Montanans to work closely with their healthcare providers to reduce the use of antibiotics. DPHHS is part of a statewide Montana Antimicrobial Stewardship Collaborative to improve antibiotic use and prescribing throughout the state. Collaborative members include Mountain-Pacific Quality Health, Montana Hospital Association, DPHHS, and the University of Montana - Skaggs School of Pharmacy.

According to Erika Baldry, Healthcare Associated Infections Epidemiologist, antibiotics are not always the answer.

“Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses,” she said. “When antibiotics aren’t needed, or taken as directed, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance.”

Baldry said resistance to antibiotics does not mean your body is becoming resistant; rather, it means that bacteria develop the ability to defeat the antibiotics designed to kill them. “Some resistant bacteria may be very difficult to treat and can spread to other people,” she said.

In the United States, 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths are caused by antimicrobial-resistant organisms each year. This is one of the most pressing public health threats in the US.

Public health authorities encourage patients to discuss the need for antibiotics when visiting their healthcare provider for an illness. Baldry said it’s important for patients to ask for reasons why they were or were not prescribed an antibiotic.

“If you were not prescribed an antibiotic because you have a viral illness, your provider may have some suggestions to relieve your symptoms, such as using fever reducers, saline sprays, warm compresses, drinking plenty of liquids and getting rest,” she said. “Everyone has a part to play when it comes to combating antibiotic resistance.”

For more information, please visit the DPHHS antimicrobial website


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